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Archive for the ‘Catholic New Media’ Category

“Ready to take a chance again…” – Catholic Media Promotion Day 2012

One of the good things about Catholicism is that forgiveness and starting over are a vital part of our spiritual DNA.  It is in that spirit that I take keyboard to electronic ink and once again revive my blog with renewed purpose.  However, I will be deviating from the “all liturgy” format in this post in order to participate in the annual Catholic Media Promotion Day by relaying my experiences from my day of silence yesterday, May 23rd, from all social media.

So, how did I fair in my self-imposed silence?  In a word: Semi-FAIL.

Let me explain.  The overall objective grew out of the spirit of Pope Benedict’s topic for World Communications Day – Silence and the Word: Path for Evangelization.  My friends over at the New Evangelizers website asked all of us involved in Catholic new media to refrain from participating in any form of social media for one day and then to write about our self discoveries the next.  I can proudly say that I did really well most of the day not commenting on any Twitter or Facebook posts — until evening came and instead of letting morning follow, I gave into my growing frustration with a certain reality singing competition (yes, I’m looking at YOU American Idol) and ran to Twitter like a drunken sailor looking for another drink to register my displeasure with this year’s winner.

It was right then that I realized something very important about my social media behaviors: since I’m not one to post about things like where I’m going or what I’m eating, I seem to turn to connecting with others online when it is either something of real importance or something I am completely passionate about. My inability to keep my own blog current is also a prime example. Instead of keeping up with writing on a daily, weekly or even monthly schedule, I sort of drive by and post when I find something I really want to talk up or share with those of you willing to follow my erratic posting style.  So I would say that this two-day experience has given me some focused and needed food for thought.  I thank the New Evangelizers for one again leading the way in getting those of us who are in the ministry of evangelization to stop and take a good, hard look at what we are doing and why.

To fulfill the second part of this double layered experiment, we were asked to answer the following question after our day of silence: “What in Catholic Media has had an impact on you during the past year?”  For me, it will be in the form of “friend”-promotion — Bishop Christopher Coyne, apostolic administrator of the Archdiocese of Indianapolis (@bishopcoyne), maintains a daily Twitter and Facebook feed that not only gives a brief synopsis of the readings for the day’s Mass with personal insight from his Excellency, but also includes links to interesting articles from the secular press or maybe some amusing YouTube content.  In whatever content he chooses to bring to our attention, Bishop Chris’ clear intent is to get us to reflect about who Christ is in our lives and if we aren’t sure, to go and find out more about Him.  I’m glad to see the Bishop taking on this important mission and look forward everyday to reading and taking in what is communicated.

To conclude, I am posting below the draft copy of my article on World Communications Day that I wrote for my monthly column on Ministry and Technology in Ministry and Liturgy magazine.  Written earlier this year, I talk about the importance of a balance between silence and word for lay ecclesial ministers. Let me know what you think and maybe it will give me the boost I need to write more often on my blog.

Oh, and if you really want to know what I think about the finale of American Idol, leave a comment and I will definitely give you my opinion on THAT subject… 😉

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(reprinted with permission – Ministry and Liturgy magazine, volume 30 number 4 May 2012)

Sunny and Sox, my two Carin Terriers, love to get out of the house and stretch their four legs everyday with a brisk walk.  As their human, it’s my job to ensure that they get their daily exercise (and it doesn’t hurt me to get my butt out of the office chair and do the same).  Our usual routine as we make our way through the neighborhood includes me catching up on the many podcasts I have stored in my iPod (podcasts are audio/video files that can be downloaded and played on either a computer or a portable media device).  Sometimes I’ve used these walks to pray along with an audio version of the church’s Liturgy of the Hours (you can find that for free at divineoffice.org or pay $14.99 for the mobile application – I highly recommend it!) or listen to some fine programming on the Catholic Channel (Channel 117 on Sirius/XM satellite radio) on my iPhone.  Lately, through, I’ve found myself not wanting to accompany our outings with a continuation of the sounds I surround myself with at other times of the day.  I seem to be becoming content, to my BIG surprise, with simply taking in the sounds of my sneakers brushing the pavement and the rhythmic jangling of the girls’ tags flopping on their collars, replacing the noise of my techno-crazy life with the calming sounds of silence.

It is because of this new found revelation on the importance of silence that I find it strangely apropos for Pope Benedict XVI to choose the topic of ‘Silence and the Word: Path for Evangelization’ for this year’s World Communications Day address (the day is celebrated on Sunday May 20th this year but the written message is published in late January/early February each year).  In his letter he states that “…social networks have become the starting point of communication for many people who are seeking advice, ideas, information and answers…If we are to recognize and focus upon the truly important questions, then silence is a precious commodity that enables us to exercise proper discernment in the face of the surcharge of stimuli and data that we receive.” (click for full document)

Think about it – we have a constant audio accompaniment to our lives that is more than capable of drowning out any and all of our own thoughts if we allow it.  It can even deafen us to the small, whispering voice that God sometimes uses to get our attention (see I Kings 19: 11-13).  While it’s easy to throw up our hands in frustration and blame technology or the culture or the hectic pace of the life we lead, it really is up to each of us to exercise a bit of self control and “pull the plug” on the cacophony of noise that commands our attention each and every day. Knowing when to step back from technology is just as important (if not more so) as learning how to use it effectively to witness Christ to the world.

The Pope understands fully that we need to use every means of communication necessary to spread the Gospel in this third millennium: “Attention should be paid to the various types of websites, applications and social networks which can help people today to find time for reflection and authentic questioning, as well as making space for silence and occasions for prayer, meditation or sharing of the word of God.”   However he also reminds us that “…in silence, we are better able to listen to and understand ourselves; ideas come to birth and acquire depth; we understand with greater clarity what it is we want to say and what we expect from others; and we choose how to express ourselves…”  That’s why websites such as 3-Minute Retreat  or Online Ministries (which includes an online version of St. Ignatius’ Spiritual Exercises) can be useful in helping us begin to balance our competing worlds of sound and silence.  Those of us who minister musically and liturgically need to remember to build silence back into our liturgies. From personal experience I know that we love to cover every action with music from start to finish (and yes, it can hide a multitude of liturgical sins) but when we forget to give silence its do we inadvertently create a atmosphere of “words, words words” and not unlike Eliza Doolittle, we drown in the spoken and sung and don’t allow for God to truly dialogue with us.  Those in catechetical ministry would do well to begin and/or end every session with moments of silence so that the restless hearts of those in faith formation may settle down before offering their prayers to God.  It’s a good practice to pass along to our young charges. Returning silence to its rightful place in these and other areas of our spiritual life can only have a positive influence in every other aspect of our life for “silence is an integral element…; in its absence, words rich in content cannot exist.”

Time for me to take my own advice.

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Sometimes inspiration comes from the oddest places…

I re-booted by blogging efforts yesterday and used as my title hook a tweet I had seen that morning from Immaculate Conception Church in Malden, MA. It read – Still trying to think of a way to live La Vida Lenten? How about this:… and then included a link for some suggestions on what to give up for the season. I chuckled when I saw the reference to the Ricky Martin song “Livin’ La Vida Loca” and mused that whoever thought that one up was pretty clever indeed.

Later on, as I was listening to the Catholic Channel on Sirius/XM, the ever-entertaining Catholic Guy Lino Rulli had decided that for the season of Lent he and his sidekick Fr. Rob “Timmy” Keighron would attempt to sing a song parody a day, something that is right up my alley. They then launched into a hilarious rendition of Lionel Richie’s “All Night Long” that had morphed into something called All Lent Long. I wish I could remember all the words but of course it might not be as funny in print – one of those “you needed to be there” moments that loses something in translation.

But I really got excited when I heard that Lino was going to take the advice of a listener and create a contest where anyone could write a song parody and submit it for them to sing during the next six weeks. Since I’ve been known to pen some altered lyrics now and again (I used to write personalized singing telegrams when I was in college) I started looking for an appropriate song to play with. This morning, as I was getting ready to attend my 2nd funeral of the week it hit me – the title of my blog post would make a perfect parody! And so, when I returned home I sat down and knocked out the song in a couple of hours.

Now, I submitted the final product to Lino’s show tonight and – even though it was about as good as what I heard both yesterday and today on his show – I have no idea if he will use it. I want to post it here but I don’t want to a) jinx my chances of winning a coveted pope bottle opener or b) offend some readers who are not comfortable with that type of humor. So…let’s see what happens. If I don’t hear a thing in a few weeks I’ll take a chance and post my work. If I do win…well…I guess I’ll have to share the winning lyrics with you. Either way, you will see my song parody at some point.

What does this have to do with liturgy and ritual?

Absolutely NOTHING!

Sometimes a liturgist just has to have some fun before Holy Week… 😉

“Living La Vida Lenten” (thanks to IC Church, Malden, MA)

Yes, friends, I’m back and what a way to start Lent! If you didn’t catch my tweet yesterday (and why AREN’T you following me on Twitter – @Ritualdiva), my Lenten discipline for 2012 is to decrease my social media consumption and increase my social media output. You see, I’ve spent lots of time teaching and encouraging others to embrace new media in an effort to contribute to the New Evangelization but I haven’t exactly been a shining example of producing content. My usual excuses have been a chorus of “too much going on at work” “taking care of elderly Mother” or “haven’t seen my husband yet this week.” After feeling a little nudge from the Holy Spirit – well, it was more like a cold shower of realization – I decided that Lent would be a good time to take on production and ease off of simply reading everything I can get my hands on.

Here’s what I’m planning:
1) Being the card-carrying Liturgist that I am, I will re-start this blog which will focus solely on Catholic Rites and Liturgy (and all the goes with that). Since where in the Lent/Easter part of our Liturgical Year topics will be plentiful but I’ll also try and connect them to our everyday life was Catholic Christians. Liturgy don’t mean a thing if it doesn’t connect back to real life!

2) I will launch a separate website that will connect to my new column on Ministry and New Media that I’ve started writing for Ministry and Liturgy magazine. Entitled “Fear Not!” I hope to share my foibles and successes in incorporating technology into my work as a Director of Faith Formation, Musician and Liturgist. And, no, I will NOT be suggesting we project music on the walls of our churches. That’s what iPads are for… 😉

3) Even with these two blogs, I want to vary up the game a bit by trying out different types of media – audio, video, whatever. This gives me a chance to really see what I like, what I can become good at and not get bored by only sticking to one medium. That might mean you’ll have to follow me around a bit but I’ll include links to wherever I plan on being on any given day.

I will need your help with all this, gentle readers. First of all, pray for me. I feel the Lord trying to lead me in a new direction and all of this is part of the discernment process. Second, I’ll need feedback to know how I’m doing so please be gentle and generous with it. And last, if you like something I’ve created, share it with your circle of friends because I would like to increase my readership and we all know that’s the way it’s done!

Happy Lenting and remember – no MEAT for YOU tomorrow! (if you’re over 14, that is…)